Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Best of Third Edition (D&D)

Enworld has an interesting poll. They've been distilling down all third edition products to those the fans pick as the best through various polls. Here are their top 5 so far. The voting is ongoing:

  1. Eberron Campaign Setting (WotC). Even if you don't like Eberron, and clearly many don't, this book contains a full campaign setting, with prestige classes, core feats, and even an adventure. I recall a sense of wonder reading through it, enjoying the "Magic as Technology" setting and its cleverness. Unfortunately, most of the follow-up projects were a let down, including the fuzzy adventures. It was a take on a D&D world, but it had a very particular flavor that didn't work for everyone.
  2. Pathfinder: Rise of the Runelords (Paizo). I've been thumbing through this adventure series, but I've hesitated to read it only because I hoped someone would run it for me some day. One review from reported: "If the print version of Dungeon had to end so that we could have Pathfinder, then I’d say it’s a good trade." I can tell you it hasn't been much of a success in the store, with only three customers buying each installment. Still, it makes me drool when I look at the maps and funky artwork. I think it gets extra votes from mobilized Paizo fans.
  3. Ptolus (Malhavoc Press). The giant, limited editon, original urban 3.0 playtest adventure by D&D 3 designer Monte Cook. What can I say, I'm a fan boy and I'm running Ptolus (my campaign starts up again tomorrow). The reason not to vote for it? One poster wrote: "It's because it's a big brick that I never read it, and its cost has deterred everyone I play with from buying a copy, which means there's been no opportunity to play it." At $120, it didn't get as much play as it would have as four $30 books. It's also out of print now, planned in advance as a single print run.
  4. Unearthed Arcana (WotC). For shear usefulness, this is the D&D 3.5 toolkit, with many alternative options for game play that many, many people have included in their games. For example, racial levels, paragon classes, dragonblooded characters, and much more. As a campaign supplement book, aimed at DM's, this one is probably the best.
  5. Player's Handbook II (WotC). Where Unearthed Arcana is a DM's toolkit on tweaking the game, The PHBII is a player based resource with over 100 new feats, new classes and campaign rules for things like reconstructing mid-level characters. It would get my vote as best accessory book, aimed at players, if it was broken down in that way.

Other books getting lots of votes: Spell Compendium, Magic Item Compendium, Draconomicon, and Midnight from Fantasy Flight. The Spell Compendium is the only one of those that I own and it's also, by far, the best selling book in this roundup.

As for usefulness for me, in order: Ptolus, Unearthed Arcana, Player's Handbook II, Book of the Righteous (Green Ronin), and Complete Book of Eldritch Might (Malhavoc).

1 comment:

  1. Interesting that out of the few 3rd edition products that I bought, I bought 1,3, and 4 (although I got 3 at a steep discount and I think I sold back 1 to you), and I've looked closely at 2. They all deserve listing for the reasons given, plus one more that I think applies to all of them: they get the job done that they set out to do.

    In other words, they are all complete products. Sure, there are always supplements that add to what came before (especially with Eberron), but there's no missing pieces that you need before you can even get started. You could run a complete Eberron campaign with just the core book. The same goes for Ptolus, and Pathfinder (with the caveat that rather than one core product you have periodical issues, but each issue is self contained and doesn't need anything else to run what's in it).

    Unearthed Arcana isn't an adventure, but like the others, all you need are the core rule books and Unearthed Arcana if that's all you want. There are no obvious gaping holes that need to be filled by another product.